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OSHA focuses on excavation dangers on the job

New Jersey workers in construction know that their jobs can be dangerous. Since construction workers often operate in incomplete structures and use heavy machinery, the consequences of a workplace accident or injury can be severe. Trenching and excavation projects can pose particular risks, especially those associated with possible cave-ins or collapse. Across the country, there has been an increase in deadly accidents connected to these types of projects. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 workers died on the job while engaged in trenching or excavation work.

Even more concerning, these fatalities are on the upswing. A full 49 percent occurred between 2015 and 2016 alone. Of the private construction deaths, 40 workers lost their lives at industrial sites, 39 at homes and 21 on highways or roads. As a result of these concerning statistics, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that enforcement and education about workplace safety in trenching and excavation will be national priorities. Just this year, OSHA fined one employer more than $400,000 for safety violations leading to trench cave-ins. The agency also levied a $250,000 fine against another company for failing to use cave-in protection while employees worked in a trench.

As part of its safety efforts, OSHA started a three-month period of prevention and education outreach starting on Oct. 1. The agency announced that it was creating a national system to report all trenching and excavation inspections. The agency also created online resources to educate employers.

When construction workers are seriously hurt on the job, they could lose valuable work hours and even their livelihood. A workers' compensation attorney can help an injured worker protect their rights and seek the benefits they deserve, especially when safety violations led to the injuries.

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